Weâ€™re on a bit of an Oris kick here at WWR, given some of the new releases, as well as the reviews that weâ€™ve had here lately. Â While I may have been late to the party in seeing their products in person, Iâ€™ve quickly become a fan of many things that theyâ€™ve done. Â While Iâ€™ve sampled the Big Crown lineup before, the Oris Big Crown 1917 takes things in a much different direction.
Iâ€™ll say it right out of the gate – theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 scratches that vintage/heritage itch for me. Â Sure, a purist may actually go looking for an original example, and I say all the more power to them. Â However, unless itâ€™s something particularly sentimental to me (say, looking for a birth year watch or something), then I am perfectly happy to accept a modern interpretation, along with a modern movement (and all that that brings along to the table).
Now, on paper, theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 wouldnâ€™t seem all that interesting. Â Youâ€™ve got a simple, rounded 40mm case (in steel), domed sapphire crystal, a simple silver dial with old-style (and shadowed) numerals, and a cathedral handset. Â But thatâ€™s why spec sheets – while helpful – donâ€™t tell the whole picture. Â For me, you need to take things all together.
Sure, theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 espouses a design language that we can see in many brands (in fact, on my Instagram feed, some folks were commenting on those similarities). Â Frankly, that can be said about a lot of watches, particularly those with vintage and/or military inspiration. Â At that point, it really behooves the prospective buyer to go and survey the landscape, and find the example that fits what theyâ€™re looking for, both in terms of styling specifics, hard specs, and of course, price.
What struck me first with theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 is the dial. Â At first glance, itâ€™s just a flat silver, but closer examination shows that to not be quite right. Â Thereâ€™s a step to the inside, right where the hour hand hits, which is reminiscent of the inner ring on Flinger-style watches. Â Then (and this shows in some of the photos), you can see that the dial isnâ€™t just a flat paint, there is actually some variation to the finish.
Next on the dial (and what really seals it for me) are those numerals. Â Oris hit the right shade of vintage lume in my opinion, and got the font of things just right. Â What pushes the numerals of theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 over the edge for me is, of all things, the shadows they have. Â This carries the feeling of hand-done sign painting (like what used to be done on office doors), and itâ€™s not something Iâ€™ve seen much of. Â Sure, you can get actual shadows from raised and applied indices, but this is something else, and it feels appropriate to the era this watch is calling home.
As I mentioned, this is not our first foray into a Big Crown model from Oris (the first one can be seen here). Â I also mentioned that it does things quite differently, as my talk of the vintage cues should have demonstrated. Â Thereâ€™s another fairly significant difference here as well – that big crown does not pull out on theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917. Â Yes, you can wind the movement, and set the time, but the crown itself is fixed in place.
So, how do you set the time on theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917? Â Simple – you press on that button up at 2 oâ€™clock, and now youâ€™re in time-setting mode. Â In my minds eye, I see this simply moving things in a similar manner to how pulling out the crown would do on another watch. Â Is this appropriate to the era? Â I have no idea, but I can see it being a solution that would help to keep things sealed (well, as much as you need for a 50m WR rating) while keeping the sometimes fragile winding stem from being subjected to abuse. Â Here, it makes for even more of a novelty, and if youâ€™re wearing the watch regularly, something youâ€™d be interacting with infrequently.
TheÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 comes fitted on a leather strap tucked into itâ€™s 18mm lugs, along with the second piece that runs under the case, making this a bund strap (again, another aviation sort of reminder). Â What this meant for me is that the watch wears smaller than the dimensions suggest. Â This is counter-intuitive, so let me explain. Â Yes, youâ€™ve got that bigger piece of leather, but itâ€™s not particularly thick. Â And since itâ€™s wider than the watch case, it makes the case look smaller than it is. Â Add in the rounded sides and smaller lug width, and you have a watch that wears smaller than you might think.
Speaking of wearing it – wear it, I did. Â With the lighter brown bund strap, the Oris Big Crown 1917 fits very firmly into the casual realm (pulling off the leather backer, though, then youâ€™re back into the territory of being able to dress the watch up). Â I wore this watch around the house, as well as to the office, and it just plain worked. Â The brown strap sort of dictates what it â€œgoesâ€ with, but the silver dial makes it a bit of a chameleon. Â The leather strap was instantly comfortable (due to itâ€™s thinness), and the curved case plus double-domed sapphire meant the watch slipped in and out from under a cuff without a second thought.
I thought I would miss having a date window on theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917, but I really didnâ€™t. Â Aside from the complexities it would introduce with the pusher setting mechanism, I guess I donâ€™t check the date as frequently as I thought I do. Â I did miss not having the seconds hand (I like the visual reassurance that things are running), but that is not something I would call a deal-breaker.
So, at the end of the day, yeah, I did really enjoy theÂ Oris Big Crown 1917, and liked having it on my wrist for the time it was on loan to us. Â Now, not everyone is going to be a fan of the $2,600Â price tag that the watch commands, but thatâ€™s partly due to coming from Switzerland, and partly due to the limited-edition nature of the watch (only 1917 pieces are being made). Â If I were selecting a watch from the Oris catalog, I might instead opt for the GMT I reviewedÂ at a similar price point, but that is not to say this is a bad watch. Â TheÂ Oris Big Crown 1917 is actually quite superb in itâ€™s own right – it just has a lot of great competition from within the brand when it comes to commanding your attention. Â oris.ch
- Brand & Model: Oris Big Crown 1917
- Price: $2,600
- Who we think it might be for:Â You like vintage-inspired aviation watches, but don’t want something that is absolutely massive
- Would I buy one for myself based on what Iâ€™ve seen?Â If I ignored the rest of the Oris catalog, indeed.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be:Â I wouldn’t mind seeing a central (or sub) seconds hand
- What spoke to me the most about this watch:Â Here, it’s the dial with it’s indentation, the shadowed numerals, and the blued cathedral handset.
Tech Specs from Oris
- Reference: Â 01 732 7736 4081-Set LS
- CASE: Â Oris Big Crown, 40.00 mm, 1.575 inches, Stainless steel
- MATERIAL: Â Multi-piece stainless steel case
- SIZE: Ã˜ 40.00 mm, 1.575 inches
- TOP GLASS: Â Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
- CASE BACK: Â Stainless steel, screwed, special engravings
- OPERATING DEVICES: Â Stainless steel screw-in security crown
- WATER RESISTANCE: Â 5 bar
- INTERHORN WIDTH: Â 18 mm
- MOVEMENT: Â Automatic winding
- NUMBER: Â Oris 732, base SW 200-1
- DIMENSIONS: Â Ã˜ 25.60 mm, 11 1/2â€™â€™â€™
- FUNCTIONS: Â Centre hands for hours and minutes, fine timing device
- WINDING: Â Automatic winding, bi-directionally rotating red rotor
- POWER-RESERVE: Â 38 hrs
- VIBRATIONS: Â 28â€™800 A/h, 4 Hz
- JEWELS: Â 26
- DIAL: Â Silver
- MATERIAL: Â Silver dial
- LUMINOUS MATERIAL: Â Numerals and hands Light Old Radium
- STRAP/BRACELET: Â Leather
- MATERIAL: Â Dark brown leather strap, stainless steel buckle
- EXTRAS: Â Special box, certificate, additional leather strap, limited to 1917